Man accused in African lion death thought hunt was legal
BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (AP) -- An avid Minnesota hunter accused of illegally killing a protected lion in Zimbabwe says he believed everything about his trip was legal.
Walter Palmer released a statement Tuesday saying he hired professional guides for his Zimbabwe bow-hunting trip and had no idea "until the end of the hunt" that the lion was a well-known animal being studied.
Palmer, a suburban Minneapolis dentist, says he regrets the hunt resulted in the lion's death.
Authorities in Zimbabwe say he's facing poaching charges. Palmer says he hasn't been contacted by U.S. or Zimbabwean authorities.
In the U.S., Palmer has a 2008 federal conviction related to shooting a black bear in Wisconsin. Court documents say he had a permit but shot a bear outside an authorized zone, then tried to pass it off as being killed elsewhere.
Zimbabwean wildlife authorities say two men will appear in court for allegedly killing a well-known lion, whose death is seen as a blow to Zimbabwe's tourism.
The Zimbabwe National Parks and Wildlife Authority and the Safari Operators Association said Tuesday that a professional hunter and a farm owner face poaching charges that they hunted a protected lion known as Cecil.
The joint statement said the hunter is believed to have lured the lion to a farm where it was killed by an American tourist in Zimbabwe's western Hwange region.
The Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force said the American, who allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the animal, is believed to have left the country.
The conservation group said Cecil, recognizable by his black mane, was part of an Oxford University research program.